A large part of political gamesmanship is being able to turn criticisms around on your opponents. Few are better at this than one of the oldest and longest serving senators in the game: John McCain of Arizona.
Conservatives have long criticized the six-term senator for his moderate and often-changing positions, but he’s always been able to stave them off.
McCain has been able to turn away many political insults over the years by applying his trademark label: Maverick. His split with donor and activist class of the party on campaign finance reform was chalked up to that label. As was his support for big-government bank bailouts and stimulus spending. And also for his collaborative bipartisanship on immigration liberalization.
No matter how liberal the position was or how much it conflicted with his past statements and actions, being a “maverick” was an impenetrable safety blanket.
A flip-flopper, not a maverick
That moniker is on its last legs after his latest string of votes. John McCain voting against repealing Obamacare wasn’t him being a maverick, it was flip-flopping plain and simple. None of McCain’s previous political misadventures have contradicted his own positions or his party’s platform in such a stark manner.
Of course, that hasn’t prevented liberal mainstream media pundits from attributing John McCain’s votes against Obamacare repeal to his maverick attitude. They are attempting to equate voting against repealing Obamacare with other issues on which the party is divided.
Truth be told, despite a few liberal holdouts, the Republican Party is united on getting rid of Obamacare. The only debate is over what, if anything, to replace it with.
Republicans were elected to a majority in the House, then the Senate, and finally the presidency, all on the promise that they would repeal Obamacare. It has been the signature issue for the GOP. Therefore it is the most important issue around which to be unified.
McCain stood by Republicans and the party’s promise of repeal during each and every one of those elections. Refusing to fulfill those campaign promises now that he has the chance is not being a maverick. It is failing to respect the voters’ wishes.
McCain has a previous record of seeking repeal of Obamacare
It wasn’t just words that John McCain put behind Obamacare repeal in the past. The Arizona Senator voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2015, along with nearly every other Republican Senator. It was assumed that Susan Collins would vote against repeal as she did in 2015. But there had been no warning that McCain would flip-flop on such a critical vote.
The final piece of legislation that Republicans put forward to repeal Obamacare failed 51 – 49. John McCain was the deciding no vote, preventing a tie from being broken by Vice President Mike Pence.
After seven years of Republican party campaign promises to undo the landmark expansion of government power, Democrats cheered when McCain cast his vote on the Senate floor. They’re currently lampooning the decision as another example of the Republican party’s infamous inaction.
Now, many are saying that it’s unlikely that Republicans will continue with their efforts to repeal Obamacare, at least for some time.
Six months into President Trump’s term the Republican party is no closer to repealing Obamacare than they were under President Obama himself. Small government conservatives may have killed Obamacare 2.0, but now McCain – the 2008 Republican presidential nominee – has killed the Republican’s foundational plan to repeal.
The law that has made a hash of the U.S. healthcare market cannot be overturned not because of Democrats, but because of a Republican – John McCain – who cannot be trusted to live up to his prior commitments on this issue.
(Photo of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, after a news conference in Washington in November 2012, by Win McNamee/Getty Images)